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Logansport native returns home, reopening theater

Logansport native returns home, reopening performance space with historic name

Posted on Aug. 17, 2014 at 12:00 a.m. | Updated on Aug. 17, 2014 at 2:22 p.m.

LOGANSPORT, Ind. (AP) — Right now, the glass doors into the State Theatre on Market Street are covered with brown paper.

They hide the theater’s foyer, now filled with packing boxes and upended furniture, and the new audio, video and lighting equipment new owner Kevin Burkett is installing in preparation for the State’s reopening Sept. 6.

Burkett, a Logansport native who moved to Philadelphia in 1997, bought the former downtown movie theater earlier this summer and restored its traditional name after former owner Billy Alger had dubbed it “The Shindig.”

Burkett said he had no intentions of restoring its former use, though.

Alger had converted the old State Theatre into a venue for comedic acts and periodic live music shows in 2013. Burkett wants to keep it oriented for live performances, too.

“I have no interest at all in being a first-run movie theater,” he told the Pharos-Tribune (http://bit.ly/1lbIA1e). “When this opportunity came up, I jumped at it because I knew this was a performance space.”

Already it has a satisfactory system of speakers and amplifiers, as far as Burkett, a musician and sometime Civic Players performer, is concerned. He’s installing a 32-channel digital mixer and snaking new audio cables beneath the house seating to go along with the speakers.

“With it being completely digital, you can have preset configurations,” Burkett said of the new mixer. Touring bands will also be able to send preset sound configurations to the mixer straight from their smartphones, too.

And to make room for everything, Burkett is removing about two rows of seats in the very back of the house to make room for a larger sound booth. Construction on the new sound booth platform is expected to start at the end of this week, he said.

“It’s going to be a pretty sweet system once we get it up and going,” he added.

Seats from those back two rows may be used to replace worn-out seats elsewhere in the auditorium, Burkett said.

Burkett officially got the keys to the State Theatre on Sunday. He’d been able to start renovations earlier, though — a good thing, in hindsight.

Unexpected obstacles stemming mainly from the age of the building already extended one part of the renovations. Burkett spent eight days remodeling the room that has become his upstairs office, ripping out old carpet and repainting the paneled walls.

“Everything I come across, I’ve got to find an efficient way to overcome,” he said, while still restoring as much as possible the building’s historical look inside and out.

Now about three weeks away from opening night, Burkett is focusing on renovations in the auditorium. He’s looking at installing an LED lighting system with expansion capabilities as the venue grows.

He’s also preparing to install a projection system for use during seminars or arts-focused events and has considered showing classic movies, too.

Eventually, though, he intends to convert a former restaurant space to the west of the State’s front entrance into first-floor restrooms, kitchen space, a waiting area and a coatroom.

“There have been people that have contacted me via Facebook and told me it’d be great if there were bathrooms downstairs,” he said. “And I totally agree.”

The current restrooms are located at the north end of the foyer and up two flights of stairs.

Burkett hopes to finish the downstairs restrooms within about nine months, he said, but added all bets were off if more obstacles cropped up.

The kitchen space would come next. That would allow for some kinds of events the State Theatre can’t yet accommodate, Burkett said, like catered events or seminars.

And those large red letters on the outside marquee spelling “State"?

They’ll be back, too.

A friend had told him when the old letters were being removed from the building more than a year ago, and over the phone Burkett offered to buy the letters.

“I bought the State sign and put it in storage in my mom’s garage, not knowing that two years later I’d buy the building,” Burkett said.

He intends to have replicas made to replace them on the marquee, and hang the originals inside, where the fragile plastic will be protected from the elements.

Burkett doesn’t even know if there will be a point where he can say he’s done remodeling the State.

“I keep saying, I’ve got three weeks to get it open,” he said, “and 30 years to finish this project.”

Information from: Pharos-Tribune, http://www.pharostribune.com


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